Gothic Modernity: Early 16th Century Belgian Court Re-opens as City Museum HVB

In the Belgian city of Mechelen, Hof van Busleyden, originally built in the early 16th century replicating late-Gothic style architecture and serving as the City Museum since 1938, underwent a construction project proposed by dmvA Architecten. The goal: to better integrate local urban culture that gives the Antwerpen city a unique edge.

The Court of Busleyden itself is a sprawling space, built of brick and sandstone. The three external spaces include a small court-yard in the Northern side, a central one paved with cobblestones and a southern town garden. The addition of an underground exhibition space adds to the treasure trove of this Museum.

The milky white stairway along with a discernible wooden one leading to the exhibition space embody an architectural superlative. The gallery itself appears spacious, well-lit and uses the steel/gray palette, making it fairly distinctive. The architects have proposed that the 19th century care-takers dwelling will eventually be demolished and replaced with a new building with a “skin of vertical steel strips.”

The City Museum area comes across as a neat agglomeration of gardens, bars, terraces and a bookshop. There is history and there is modernity. There is a hint of the local and a hint of the global. The renovated project will make the museum space even more welcoming to all.

Photography by Bart Gosselin